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Gang member license ID plan to be revised

A state representative’s proposal to mark gang members’ driver’s licenses with the letter “G’’ was heard yesterday before the Joint Committee on Transportation at the State House, but it probably will undergo significant revisions after it was later assailed as unconstitutional.

As it is written, the bill reads that a person who is “deemed a gang member’’ will be issued a “G’’ sticker for his or her license to denote gang affiliation.

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The bill’s sole sponsor, Representative Paul McMurtry, a Dedham Democrat, did not appear at yesterday’s hearing. He said last night that he introduced the legislation in an effort to help police officers crack down on gang violence. In retrospect, he said, he believes the bill is flawed.

The label was not intended to be affixed to driver’s licenses, but the information would be placed in a database that could be accessed by police officers, he said. A sticker on a driver’s license could turn into “a badge of honor for these individuals,’’ he said.

The Dedham lawmaker said the proposal is in its infancy and he plans to amend it or file a new bill. “The underlying primary goal will be close but the language will be different’’ in the revised bill, he said.

McMurtry said a license is “a tool that the Commonwealth is continually providing that is allowing [gang members] to wreak havoc.’’

“The sole purpose of [my proposal] is to be able to give police officers the ability to revoke or pull over the individuals of known gang members - to be able to revoke their license, to revoke that privilege in the Commonwealth,’’ he said.

Harvey Silverglate, a veteran criminal defense lawyer and civil libertarian, said he believes McMurtry’s bill is unconstitutional.

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